Top Tory's death at festival a mystery

A pathologist has been unable to determine how a senior Tory whose body was found in a Glastonbury Festival VIP toilet died, an inquest heard today.





Christopher Shale, 56, a close friend of David Cameron, was discovered slumped in a cubicle in the backstage area yesterday morning.



The Prime Minister's constituency chairman had been reported as missing by worried family members at 900-acre Worthy Farm on Saturday.



The inquest, which lasted just a few minutes, was opened and adjourned until a later date by East Somerset Coroner Tony Williams.









The hearing, which was held at Wells Town Hall, heard that Mr Shale was found within the festival's Orange Zone and declared dead at 9.17am by an emergency care practitioner.

Mr Shale's wife formally identified his body later that morning.



Coroner's officer Ben Batley told the inquest that a post mortem examination was carried out yesterday and the preliminary cause of death was "unascertained".



Mr Batley said further toxicology tests would be carried out to establish how Mr Shale died.



The coroner said that he was adjourning the inquest until a later date.



He added: "As a result of me having opened this inquest I am content to release the body to the family."



No members of Mr Shale's family were present at the inquest.



It is feared Mr Shale's body may have lain undiscovered for up to 10 hours.



Police found the businessman's body as he was quoted in the Mail on Sunday bemoaning difficulties his party faced in recruiting new members.



He was reported to have written: "No reason to join. Lots of reasons not to."



Earlier today Downing Street confirmed it had contacted Mr Shale on Saturday to warn him that the note he had written had been leaked to the newspaper".



Mr Cameron said he was "devastated" as he described Mr Shale as a valued friend and a "big rock" in his life.



Confusion reigned at the site after festival founder Michael Eavis said the wealthy businessman's death could be a "suicide situation".



But police dismissed the claim, with sources saying he was thought to have suffered a heart attack.



A police spokesman said: "The results of the post-mortem combined with the inquiries conducted into the circumstances surrounding the death indicate it is not suspicious."



Mr Eavis expressed his "deepest sympathy" as the police probe was launched.



Mr Shale was staying with his family in a Winnebago surrounded by a host of celebrities and performers.













Mr Cameron, the MP for Witney, said he and wife Samantha were great friends of Mr Shale's.

"Sam and I were devastated to hear the news about Christopher," the Prime Minister said.



The West Oxfordshire Conservative Association chairman was "a great friend and has been a huge support over the last decade" in the constituency, Mr Cameron added.



"A big rock in my life has suddenly been rolled away," he said.



A distraught woman, staying in the backstage area between the Pyramid and other stages, was seen being comforted by officers shortly after the discovery at 9am.



Police confirmed several relatives were at the site.



Mr Eavis sent his thoughts to family and friends, before adding: "We work very closely with the police, medical and other emergency services to ensure that the festival is as safe as possible for all 170,000 people on the site."



A police cordon, patrolled by dozens of officers and security guards, was erected in the area where festival production teams and some performers stay.



A host of celebrities were also camped in the vicinity, with Wayne and Coleen Rooney understood to have been staying in a nearby luxury RV.



Mr Shale and his relatives were apparently staying next to The Times columnist Caitlin Moran.



The writer tweeted: "Woke up to find the man in the Winnebago next to us died. Bit of a grim start to the morning."



Revellers reacted with shock as they were told the area was "a crime scene".



Tom Waite, 35, from Cheddar, was among those staying in the VIP area.



He said: "It's just awful for his family."



Mr Shale was the chief executive of Oxford Resources Ltd, a cost reduction company based in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.



He was previously chief executive of MSG Communications.



He is listed on the website of eurosceptic think-tank OpenEurope as a supporter and was a director of the Centre for Policy Studies.



Most revellers carried on partying unaware as the festival came to a close in sweltering conditions, with more than 50,000 fans turning out for a performance from American star Beyonce.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing specialist merchant co...

SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'